Make It and Mend It

5H5A6931.jpgWe all have items lurking in our wardrobe that we don’t wear any more, but can’t bear to throw away. Cardigans with a frayed cuff, a tear in the fabric of a favourite dress or a hole in the elbow of our snuggliest jumper. Instead of letting these much loved items languish in your wardrobe why not try revamping them? With a little imagination and some basic crochet skills we can easily give our wardrobes a new lease of life.

Enterprising crocheters may already be familiar with extending the life of handmade garments for babies and toddlers by adding a decorative frill to lengthen a dress or jumper. This was fairly common in my childhood, and a habit I continued with my own daughter’s wardrobe. A strategically placed piece of crochet applique can hide all manner of stains and fabric mishaps – and patches are no longer the preserve of 1970’s denim – think of a floral embellishment to cover a rip as a “woolly tattoo” or a badge of honour awarded to your favourite jumper for years of faithful service.  It may surprise you to know, that for some time it has been possible to buy “Clothes Plasters”, beautiful embroidered patches, designed to cover up holes, rips and stains in the most attractive way. In fact, it was coming across a display of these in a store which prompted me to pick up my crochet hook and make my own repairs.

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While we’re used to crochet motifs embellishing our clothes, “visible mending” or the art of the decorative repair is less well known and I think it’s high time we began to think about celebrating those “battle scars” (the stains, the tears, the worn fabric) and putting a little effort into extending the life of our favourite garments There is a growing fashion movement which rejects the “fast fashion” of the high street, preferring instead to search out second hand, vintage or “preloved” clothes and alter them for modern figures and lifestyles. Once you begin to see the possibilities to revamp, repair or refresh a preloved garment with crochet you will begin to see stains and tears as an opportunity rather than a misfortune. And you’ll be in good company. The much admired textile artist Tom van Deijnen (known as “Tom of Holland”) has been championing the old and the imperfect for some time and his Visible Mending Programme has inspired many of us to see our wardrobes in a new light. He certainly reminded me that shop bought clothes deserve just as much care and attention as the ones we make for ourselves.

Just as the Japanese art of Kintsugi makes a virtue of cracks and flaws in pottery by infilling with gold and precious metal , a creative mend or patch enhances the original garment and tells the story of how it has been worn and loved. Once you begin to consider repair as a way to extend the life of your clothes, the mends, darns and patches become opportunities to personalise your wardrobe and each “fix” simply adds another detail. A patch can add a splash of colour, an embroidered flower turns a hand me down scarf into a brand new item for a younger child, while a darned sock reflects the pride taken in making the original pair.

The  projects shown here are garments from my own wardrobe, none of which I made myself. Nonetheless, they are much loved and I definitely consider them “wardrobe staples”. The cotton tunic which I wore so often the fabric began to fade and perish was no longer fit to be seen in public, yet I was loathe to throw it away.  Instead I chose a few complementary colours of 4 ply yarn and hooked up some simple flowers. I’ll admit that it took longer to sew them on than it did to crochet them, but an evening spent hand stitching has been well rewarded. The tunic now has a new lease of life. It is often admired and has sparked many conversations. Yes, it has to be hand washed, as I fear the patches may fade or shrink in the wash, but that is no real hardship for those of us who are used to handwashing our crochet or hand knits.

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The possibilities for embellishment and decoration are endless and only limited by the time you have available. They are also lessons in thrift and ingenuity.  The elbow patch pictured here was made using tiny scraps of yarn left over from a previous commission. Too small for anything else, these “ball ends” would most likely have been thrown away, so their reinvention as a floral elbow patch also rescued them from landfill.

The cardigan may look like a deliberate act of crochet enhancement, but it hides a frayed cuff. Now, instead of being a cosy “comfort garment” picked up for a couple of pounds in a charity shop, it has  been promoted to “going out” wear. I am tempted to add more buttons, more floral patches to the front and around the collar and each time I open my button tin I see more opportunities for enhancement. These days I look twice at clothes with small flaws, seeing a chance to get creative without the effort of making a whole new garment from scratch or spending and afternoon searching for a replacement on the high street.

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The simple projects here should be seen as inspiration, use them as a starting point to revive your own wardrobe and a chance to reveal your personality. Invest some time in creating a woolly tattoo or a crochet plaster – you’ll be in good company – and you’ll have a truly unique item of clothing.

This feature was first published in Issue 74 of Inside Crochet, photos by Kristen Mavric are reproduced with permission of Tailor made Publishing

I used two simple flower motifs, sew them together to make a larger patch or sew individually to cover those pesky holes in t shirts.

Flower One (written in UK crochet terms):

Motif is made in a spiral with right side facing. At the end of Rnd 1 do not turn or make ch, simply continue with next Rnd.

Make 6ch, join with a sl st to first ch to make a ring.

Rnd 1: 10dc into ring, sl st into first dc.

Rnd 2: 5tr in next dc (sl st in next dc, 5tr in next dc) 4 times, finish with a sl st into same place as sl st on Rnd 1. Fasten off yarn.

Weave in yarn tails and press lightly if desired before stitching to fabric.

Flower Two (used to make the elbow patch):

Make 6ch, join with a sl st to first ch to make a ring.

Rnd 1: (3ch, tr cl into ring, 3ch, sl st into ring) 5 times. Fasten off leaving a long tail. Weave in beginning tail.

Making up:

Sew 9 flowers together to make each patch (following photo as a guide to placement), using yarn tails to join each flower. Sew to sleeves of sweater using matching thread.

Further inspiration:

Read this blog post from Dottie Angel on her love of the woolly tattoo and admire beautiful examples of her work

Tom van Deijnen holds regular workshops and writes about the art of the visible mend on his website, where you can also view examples of his work.

 

Flower, Flowers, Flowers!

099RHS-High-Res (2).jpgThe new issue of Inside Crochet magazine landed on my doorstep a few days ago and I couldn’t wait to see inside. This issue has my feature on floral embellishments and upcycling high street finds in it and I’m really proud to be featured in an issue stuffed with gorgeous designs, interviews and features.

I love flowers, and many of my designs are influenced by my garden and nature. Lucky for me, Claire Montgomerie shares my love of all things floral and encourages me to explore my wilder side (I would never have chosen that bright pink boxy cardigan – but oh my word – it’s exactly right and the photos are stunning). Like all the best editors, she knows how to tease out an idea and encourage her  designers to turn a rough idea into a fully fledged design. It’s one of the many things that makes Inside Crochet such a brilliant magazine, the mix of skills levels, interesting articles and the interviews with designers and textile entrepreneurs makes for a great read.

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Often, I’ll submit a sketchy idea and then Claire and I will discuss her thoughts, together we’ll come up with a plan and this collaboration makes for much better finished designs and a few surprises. In this case, Claire was tasked with finding a “pretty bag” and a cardigan that would hold it”s own once all the flowers were applied. The accessories Claire chose were from Zara (a favourite high street shop for many of us) and until her parcel arrived I didn’t know what to expect.

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The embellished bag also features a few silk leaves to give some texture and interest (you could use real leaves for a special occasion, such as a wedding or christening) and is still practical enough to use every day. I think it would make the perfect holiday bag, you could even take a plain bag on holiday and crochet a few embellishements on the journey or on the beach.

The yarn we chose for these projects is Yarn and Colours Must Have Minis, they are the perfect size for embellishing projects and the colour range is a treat – I can always find “just the right shade” –  and I’m lucky that the Yarn and Colours team support my work so generously (they have also supplied all the yarn for my new book, due out in January).

Embellishing is a great way to cheer up tired or dated wardrobe favourites. A pop of colour, an edging or a whole floral make over can give a dress, jacket or cardigan a whole new lease of life. And, if you don’t want to commit to a whole crochet garment, you can still create something unique that reflects your personality.

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Of course, a great idea is one thing. But, it takes a creative stylist and a great photographer to bring out the best in these simple projects, and once again I’m really lucky that Inside Crochet have a great team – you’ll find full credits below (the links will take you to their Instagram accounts).

Thanks Claire, for always bringing out the best in me !

Designs commissioned by Claire Montgomerie

Published in Inside Crochet

Styling Kath Webber

Photography Leanne Jade Photography

Hair and Make Up Nicki_Pumpkin

Accessories by Zara

Yarn supplied by Yarn and Colours

All images (c) Tailor Made Publishing

Totally Tropical

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We all need a bit of colourful whimsy during these warm summer days, and my tropical Bunting certainly fits the bill.  I was completely self indulgent with this design, I just made exactly what I would love to have hanging in my garden. I just need to persuade Mr T to organise a summer party, so we can fill the garden with colour, friends and laughter.

You can find the pattern in Issue 103 of Inside Crochet Magazine, and there are plenty more gorgeous photos on Ravelry. I’m thrilled with the styling (thank you Kath and Claire) and the photography (thankyou Kirsten Mavric). The yarn is Scheepjes Catona, which was perfect for this. The palette is full of vibrant, tropical shades and it’s so smooth to crochet with. I’m toying with the idea of making table weights using the watermelon and cherries from this pattern, would that be too much do you think???

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THis issue is still on sale, and it’s filled with bright, fun projects for summer. Look out for it in your news agent, or buy the digital version here.

Embellished Sweaters

5H5A6976 (2).jpgI am so thrilled to be able to share more photos of the embellished sweaters I designed for Inside Crochet’s 100th issue. These were a joy to make – a real chance for me to indulge my love of crochet embellishments. Claire Montgomerie and I worked together to come up with the final design, we wanted something wearable, but a bit quirky and so I embellished two sweaters. The first is one I could happily see myself wearing to the office, while the second is a bit wilder and the kind of thing I would wear for a night out or to a party.  It’s hard to choose a favourite, both are equally pretty and will give any crocheter a chance to show off their frivolous side.

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Even if you don’t want to commit to crocheting a full garment, you can easily add a few embellishments to make your wardrobe a unique reflection of your personality. Don’t be afraid to have fun with crochet. Embellishments are the perfect opportunity to get creative and enjoy your crochet. Pictured in the photo above is Kath Webber‘s beautiful Floribunda Bunting – isn’t it fabulous? I can just see this making an appearance at many summer parties this year. I also love this cute party hat designed by Sarah-Jane from the fabulous Flo and Dot blog. These sweaters both make their debut in issue 100 of Inside Crochet, which is on sale now and has a lovely cover gift. You can also buy digital issues here. The whole issue has a party vibe and the editorial team have created an issue that is filled with fun and practical designs by some of my favourite designers.

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Happy crocheting  x

Credits

Yarn: Scheepjes  (Catona Cotton)

Hair and Make Up: Julia Edwards

Styling: Claire Montgomerie

Photography: Kirsten Mavric

Happy 100th Inside Crochet

issue 100 embellished sweaterThis week, the 100th issue of Inside Crochet magazine was published. It’s a fabulous issue, a real celebration of the best crochet designers and full of beautiful projects. Of course, I was thrilled to see my embellished sweaters made it into this issue. It’s a real joy to work with the Inside Crochet team, the styling, photography and even the attention to details such as make up, hair and the clothes the models wear. It all adds up to a gorgeous magazine that shows off the skills and imagination of crochet designers and offers readers a huge diversity of projects. Whether your preference is amigurumi, accessories or garments, every issue has something you’ll want to make.

I’m off on holiday, but when I get back I’ll be continuing the 100th birthday celebrations with a selection of my favourite designers and a few of my own favourite designs. Meanwhile, go seek out a copy of issue 100, which has a beautiful cover gift of hooks, notions and a teeny ball of yarn and Colours yarn!

Happy Birthday Inside Crochet!

New Design: Kid’s Cardigan

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Well, just look at this little cutie! I am so thrilled with the photography and styling of my latest project for Inside Crochet magazine – as always Claire Montgomerie  really knows how to show off a simple design. The Merienda cardigan pattern comes in sizes 54cm – 72cm and is suitable for beginners who have mastered basic stitches, increasing and decreasing. The vibrant colours are from the King Cole 100% Merino range, which is a joy to work with and washes well. The buttons were an impulse buy last year, but they go perfectly with the yarn (another reason to always have a well stocked button tin!).

Issue 98 is still on sale – but be quick – issue 99 is due to hit the stores very soon. If you prefer, you can always purchase a digital copy here. As always there are lots of projects I want to make, Anne farmer’s cute little make up bag would be the perfect weekend project and Helda Pangary’s motif scarf is so beautiful.

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Credit: Lucy Williams for Tailormade Publishing

I am really excited to share my next design for Inside Crochet – it’s a real corker – probably my best yet – but you’ll have to wait for issue 100 to see it (or check out Inside Crochet’s Instagram stories for a sneaky peek and see if you can spot it!

Merienda cardigan

Credits:

Photography by Shutterhouse for Tailormade Publishing

Styling by Claire Montgomerie

Yarn supplied by King Cole ltd

Featured in Inside Crochet

mavric flowers 6Another pretty design in the new issue of Inside Crochet! These pretty hairclips are  perfect for using up all your odds and ends and look great as brooches or hair clips. I had great fun choosing lots of bright and pretty colours from my stash. You can find full instructions  in Issue 89 of Inside Crochet, which is the shops now.

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Credits:

Styling: Claire Montgomerie

Photography: Mavric Potography

Copyright: Tailor Made Publishing

 

On the Cover!

15085650_1266999010026114_3931670987280840634_nYep, that’s me – right there on the cover of this month’s Inside Crochet magazine – well not literally “me, but my design. I have worked with the Inside Crochet team for several years now and this is the first time one of my designs has been chosen as the main cover image. It was so exciting to see it for the first time.

The Cavendish beanie and wrist warmers are really quick and easy to make using Aran yarn. I used West Yorkshire Spinners Blue Faced Leicester Aran, which is gorgeous to work with. The set is sized from baby to adult, the model is photographed in medium (60 sts) which is a little big for me, but I have a small head. I’m sure that now the samples are back I’ll have no trouble finding a willing recipient for it!

Also in this issue, I have a super skinny scarf pattern which uses just one 400m skein of  luxury 4 ply (or you could use sock yarn). I’ll be back with photos of that soon and more about the lovely yarn I used.

Meanwhile, go check out issue 84 of Inside crochet, which is out now and full of gorgeous designs and quick makes for Christmas.

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From the Archive: Wallace Washcloths

Wallace Washcloths 1.jpgThis one is a real blast from the past! One of my very first published designs, these appeared in Issue 34 of Inside Crochet magazine. I had completely forgotten about them, until I unearthed the original samples in a box under the bed (never be surprised by what lurks under the bed)! I’ve decided to share the original patterns with you here for free. They are very simple,  and please don’t stress about little things like matching correct yarn,  tension or exact  hook size. Of course these things matter, but in the great scheme of things, a slight difference in tension won’t make a great deal of difference, it might affect the amount of yarn you use or the drape, but as you’ll most likely be diving into your stash and then soaking these in hot soapy water, don’t worry too much.

These are ideal for swatching new projects, trying out new stitch patterns and they make perfect gifts. I like to use an organic 100% cotton for babies or facial use, but for the kitchen I’ll use any 100% cotton. In fact, you can even buy “dishcloth” cotton, sold just for this purpose. The yarn used for these cloths might seem a little over luxurious for a humble washcloth (85% cotton, 10% silk and 5% cashmere), but they have washed and worn so well I’ve been very pleased with them and would use it again. I had the yarn in my stash, left over from a baby blanket and this was the perfect way to use it up.

Today, my pattern writing is a little more sophisticated, but it’s still good enough to reproduce here. I was so proud when it first appeared in print and so excited to see the photos in Inside Crochet. They were taken by my talented friend and “tame photographer” Andrea Ellison.

I often make these as gifts. But, over the years I’ve learned to add a little note, reassuring the recipient they can (and are meant to be used). They do make perfect photo props, draped over the side of a Butlers sink or arranged on a scrubbed pine table, but there’s no fun in things that can’t be used or enjoyed is there!

If you do make a washcloth, perhaps you’d be kind enough to share a photo on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Or, if you’re on Ravelry, clicking the heart button or adding the project to your queue is much appreciated.

Happy hooking x

Wallace Washcloth Pattern by Tracey Todhunter

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Pattern is written in UK crochet terms.

Approximate finished size: 18cm/7in x 18cm/7in  square

Original yarn used: Debbie Bliss Bella●50g/95m/105yd ●Colours: Pink, shade number 09, Blue, shade number 13, Ecru, shade number 21 (one ball of each)

Tension: Tension is not critical to this project, your work should drape slightly and row count can be adjusted to make a square. Work 30st and 30 rows in  single loop pattern to measure 18x18cm or 7x7in using 4mm hook, or size required to obtain tension. Each washcloth needs approximately 50m of DK cotton, a full ball of recommended yarn will make one washcloth plus trim for a second. Left over yarn can be used to make striped washcloths.

Hooks and notions:  4mm crochet hook. Tapestry needle to weave in ends

Abbreviations:

dc: double crochet

dtr: double treble crochet

dcblo: double crochet into back loop only

dcflo: double crochet into front loop only

rs: right side

ws: wrong side

Special stitches:

Single loop:

Row 1: (rs) 1ch, dc into second ch from hook, 1dcflo into each st to last st, 1dc, turn

Row 2: (ws) 1ch, 1dc, 1dcblo into each stitch to last st, 1dc, turn

Row 3: 1ch, 1dc, 1dcflo into each stitch to last st, 1dc, turn.

Repeat Rows 2 and 3 for pattern.

 Mock Bobble:

Row 1 (ws) 1ch, dc into second ch from hook, *dtr into next st, dc into next, repeat from * to end. Turn

Row 2 (rs): 1ch,  dc to end, turn

Rows 3 and 4: Repeat Row 2

Row 5: 1ch, dc in first dc * 1 dtr in next dc, 1 dc, repeat from * to end. Turn.

Repeat Rows 2 – 5 for pattern.

Single Loop Washcloth (photographed in Pink and Ecru)

With 4mm hook  make 31 ch.

Set up Row: 1dc into second ch from hook, 1dc into each ch to end, turn (30dc)

Work single loop pattern until work is roughly square (about 28 rows), finish with Row 2.

Edging: Work one row of double crochet, at the end of the row, do not turn.  1ch and turn to work 30dc evenly along side of washcloth,1ch at corner, work 30dc evenly across bottom (working into underside of foundation chain), 1ch and work 30dc evenly along second side,. Fasten off.

Weave in all ends

Mock Bobble Washcloth (photographed in blue)

With 4mm hook and Blue, make 32 ch, turn.

Set up row: 1dc into second ch from hook, 1dc into each ch to end, turn (31dc)

Work Mock Bobble pattern until work is roughly square (about 28 rows), finish with Row 4.

Edging: As for Single Loop Washcloth

Weave in all ends.

Refer to ball band for washing and pressing instructions.

In Print

I’m a bit behind with sharing photos of my latest work in print. So here’s a quick round up of my latest designs for Inside Crochet (also huge thanks to the IC team for giving my book a lovely mention this month). In issue 74 I had a feature published on the art of mending, which featured this gorgeous floral elbow patch and floral cuff. Both are really quick and simple ways to revamp your wardrobe.

Image Credit: Mavric Photography
Image Credit: Mavric photographyI

Issue 74 is available as a digital download, details from Inside Crochet.

New Published Pattern: Linoleum Cowl

inside crochet 73More exciting news this week – the new edition of Inside Crochet arrived and my latest design using Eden Cottage Yarns beautiful 4 ply is featured on the cover. The Linoleum Cowl was inspired by a photo on Instagram of an old floor, I loved the vivid yellows and oranges and thought they would be a great combination for a “mid century” inspired accessory. I used a combination of Askham and Milburn 4 ply yarns, the shades were perfect and  these yarns work so well together and allow the knitter or crocheter plenty of choice in putting together their own colour palette. Askham yarn is on special offer at the moment, so this is the perfect time to spoil yourself.

Photo credit: Leanne Dixon
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon

To make the cowl, you’ll need three different shades. I suggest making the motifs first, sewing them together and then working the main cowl until it matches the length of your motifs, this allows for any differences in tension to be “ironed out” by working more or fewer rows of the pattern.

Photo credit: Leanne Dixon
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon

Look out for issue 73 in the shops, there are some lovely patterns in this issue and a great interview with fellow designer Ali Campbell (who also has a guest project in my new book) and a really pretty shawl by Helda Pangary, which I am planning to make over the Christmas holidays. This is another project which would be perfect for Askham or Milburn, so I’ll be raiding my stash to find the perfect colour combination.

 

Time to Celebrate

Issue 64 of Inside Crochet is now on sale, as always I cannot choose my favourite project from this issue, Claire Montgomerie’s Aster Wrap is beautiful (I’m loving the colour).

Aster Wrap, photo credit; Lucy Williams for Tailormade Publishing

Can’t you just imagine a summer evening, watching the sun go down with this elegant wrap covering your shoulders?

I’m also thrilled to say that I have a feature in this issue on the subject of crochet celebrations. The set has been beautifully photographed by Leanne Dixon and Claire (the editor) has styled it beautifully.  Along with the patterns for garland, bunting and little heart shaped “cake pops”, you’ll find lots of advice for hosting your own crochet party and tips for getting everyone involved in making a truly handmade celebration. Here’s a few images to get your creative juices going. Look out for Issue 64 in the shops now.

Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo Credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo Credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing